Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spilling Boulders in the Sun

I know everyone thinks passing along values is a good thing. Tradition and all that. But what if the passing on of those values is just a formula for a future without evaluation; without thought?

I used to believe everything that my father and mother did. You have to start there. Then, you  need to think it over. It seems simple, yes? But the number of people who never get to step two is probably higher than we think. 

Do we vote how our daddy told us to? Do we judge others on the same criteria he did? Are we the proud wavers of mom's flag of prejudice; of father's banner of sexism; of Uncle Fred's angry religion?

It's nothing new, what I'm saying, but it came back to me as I was teaching Frost's "Mending Wall," recently. And, then, as I was considering people's motives for political views in an environment of indecipherable information. In the poem, the speaker is walking the property line with his neighbor, fixing the wall by picking up stones. The speaker questions the need to have the wall, at all, but the neighbor... 
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Then, the speaker feels like shaking things up:
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why  do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence .
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could  say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed .
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying ,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."
The brightest image? The contrast to this fellow who "moves in darkness"? It opens the whole poem:
Something  there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun...
I think we are there, as a society. The brightest future might be in allowing some of the more useless stones of our parents' wisdom to topple down and lie, undisturbed, in the sun.

No comments:

Post a Comment